Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Waterford and Pontiac Work out Schools of Choice

Pontiac Board of Education meets to settle dispute over Waterford Schools of Choice issue

The Pontiac Board of Education met in closed session Wednesday to review an agreement meant to settle the flap over a Schools of Choice issue with Waterford schools.

However, neither school district was releasing any information about the attorney-prepared agreement until officials from both school systems approve it.

The issue arose when Waterford school officials realized as many as 100 non-resident students are attending Waterford schools outside the Schools of Choice laws.

 It was an “internal error involving Waterford resident students who moved out of the district but were incorrectly permitted to remain under Schools of Choice status,” Lessel said.
Officials in Pontiac were alerted to the problem when Waterford requested Pontiac schools provide a waiver to allow the students to continue there.

After the closed session, Pontiac Superintendent Brian Dougherty and board President Caroll Turpin were planning to meet with Waterford Superintendent John Silveri and board President Joan Sutherland to sign off on the agreement.

However, the process was not expected to be completed Wednesday because Silveri was out of the office for the visitation of Waterford Police officer Steve King, who died while off duty Sept. 22, said Rhonda Lessel, spokeswoman for Waterford schools.

Under state law, only students who are accepted under the limited Schools of Choice policy published by each district each year can attend another district without a waiver from their home district.

This year, Waterford’s Schools of Choice policy indicates that only a limited number of non-resident students would be accepted in kindergarten and the Cyber Academy.

Dougherty said the loss of as many as 100 students means the Pontiac district could lose as much as $800,000 in state aid.
 Attorneys for both districts were working on a agreement that will likely cover what happens to the students and the state aid.

It is unclear, however, what effect the enrollment of Pontiac students outside the Schools of Choice policy will have on Waterford until Oakland Schools intermediate district completes an audit of enrolled students and turns it over the Michigan Department of Education for its determination.

Contact staff writer Diana Dillaber Murray at 248-745-4638, email diana.dillaber@oakpress.com, or Twitter @DDillybar.